Power to the people

Opinion: Columns

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By Kwame Salter

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. 

Robert F. Kennedy 


'We the People" was supposed to be a definitive statement that made it clear who were the guardians of our democracy. Our elected officials should represent us, the people — not the monied class or special interest groups with their army of highly paid lobbyists. 

Public service is both a right and responsibility. A diligent public servant keeps his/her ear to the ground to stay in tune with both what the people are saying and what their government can do to address their concerns. Ideally, our political parties may differ on strategies but should always agree on protecting our fragile democracy. 

Unfortunately, we have come to a place where "We the People" are little more than cardboard cutouts, who, every two or four years, are given the opportunity to choose someone to distort or ignore our demands and wishes. 

The two dominant political parties have encased themselves in impenetrable bubbles. Their aim is to keep power at any costs — the people be damned. So if the politicians are not working for us, the people, who are they working for? The short answer is themselves and their puppet masters — the so-called elites of our society. These elites are the rich and powerful whose only aim is to get richer and more powerful. 

According to Bloomberg Wealth, "the 50 richest Americans are worth as much as the poorest 165 million." The monied class needs the political elites to rig the government via laws and executive actions that keep massive infusions of cash coming into their coffers. To the monied elites, government is a big shiny ATM machine.  

Take for example Trump's much ballyhooed tax-cut legislation that saw 83 percent of the money doled out to the richest individuals and corporations. And what do We the People get? Table scraps? So much for "trickle-down" economics. Our government has not been overthrown; it has been taken over by the political and monied elites. Empathic politicians are viewed as weak and or disloyal partisans. 

Are we seeing the emergence of fascism wrapped in the American flag? Symbolic patriotism is the opiate that keeps the masses in line. 2020 has ushered in serious challenges to our fragile democracy. Still, the current administration is hell-bent on using any means necessary to gain and keep power; to punish and, if they had their way, to jail their political opponents and to promote a cult of personality that looks to replace the POTUS with a King or Fuhrer. However, We the People may be slow but we're not stupid.  

This year's election cycle is of critical importance. This is our chance to send a message to the political elites. Put simply, if Joe Biden wins, the Democratic Party should be put on notice that their victory will be more of a rejection of Trumpism than a vote of confidence. For the Republican Party, now is the time to re-evaluate its course, going forward. As a country, we need the insights of true conservatives — not the insults and bullying that currently characterizes the party under Trump. 

Finally, We the People need to wise up and stop being manipulated by empty calorie platitudes, slogans, and divisive race-baiting tactics. We should never forget what Abraham Lincoln said during his Gettysburg address: "government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

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Reader Comments

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Nick Polido  

Posted: October 17th, 2020 9:33 AM

Parsing a commonly used phrase 'Choosing between the lessor of two EVILS" as some type of Sophie's choice reminded me of the dressing down Senator Mazie Keiko Hirono gave to Amy Coney Barret on her use of sexual preference, implying this term was meant to show the Judges disdain for people in the LGBTQ community. I myself will be holding my nose as I vote for the Biden- Harris ticket.

Joyce Siragusa  

Posted: October 17th, 2020 8:30 AM

Why is it when I read these messages boards visions of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory appear.......

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 7:12 PM

I don't care what you live for Bill. I just wish I could leave a comment without you crawling over it like a roach looking for a snack.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 6:55 PM

You've no idea what I live for, Ada. This is a pastime when I feel like responding.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 5:25 PM

nothing is simple with you Bill - you live for this. I don't.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 4:32 PM

Was a simple question, Ada- wasn't trying to "school" you. "Evil" is a pretty strong term, and not one I hear being applied to Biden. But if you think Biden is a moron, well, thanks for the clarification. As for any attempt at schooling you, that clearly would be a waste. So by all means, you move on to wherever it is you're going.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 12:50 PM

Dwyer - I know you see this comment section as your stump to school those of us less skilled in the art of argumentation and debate. But I still see it as simply comment section. It would be nice to be able to leave a comment and move on. So final answer - yes I think Joe Biden is a complete idiot - and I am ashamed that I have to vote for him b/c I have no other option at this point. And our country deserves better than this spoonful of gruel we are being force fed...b/c we have let politicians get away with too much for too long.

Gregg Kuenster  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 11:27 AM

Looking for the better and productive part of our souls. Trying to be better. Trying to find those smarter, kinder, less corrupt and less power hungry is wise. Blaming others for common problems will not bath, house or feed anyone. Let us try to commit to a higher common purpose.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 11:10 AM

And Ramona- the "union worker in Michigan" WAS full of s**t.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 11:09 AM

So Ada- seriously, with respect- you consider Biden the lesser of two EVILS?

Mark Graham from Oak Park  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 8:54 AM

On Thursday October 15, 2020 we had the opportunity to view Trump and Biden answering voter questions on NBC and ABC. Joe Biden provided thoughtful and detailed answers. Donald Trump blustered and lied, repeatedly. The choice can't be more obvious.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 16th, 2020 12:06 AM

oh and I'm really done with voting for the lesser of two evils. B/c we deserve better.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 11:55 PM

Bill - I'd prefer to have an actual presidentially worthy candidate. I'd like to have a candidate who is smarter than us, kinder than us, less corrupt than us, less power hungry than us, and who would actually use this elected position - as one of the most powerful people in the world - to simply be better than us. And we aren't getting that with either candidate. We need to take back our country. I don't even know what that entails. But whatever it is - we all need to think long and hard about who we are as Americans...as people. And as melodramatic as this rant may seem - I am for the first time in my life - seriously concerned about the direction of our country.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 11:36 PM

@Neal. You are correct. Most would look at a very expensive car and probably despise the person who purchases it and wonder how many people that money could feed. Instead, they should look at how many people it takes to shape the metal, mine the copper for the wires, produce the tires, weld the frame, stitch the leather, paint the body, etc. You see that expensive cars allows people to use their skills to make a living and have some semblance of dignity instead of living life with no respect and waiting on a hand out from a government official.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 11:31 PM

Have to love this one when he tells a union worker in Michigan "I don't work for you" and tells him he is "full of shit". Need to give him some respect for being honest I suppose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k2UeoY4uyU

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 11:28 PM


Ramona Lopez  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 11:26 PM

It is wonderful to see that Kamala who believes all of Biden's accusers is willing to put that aside to be his running mate. It is a sad day when these 2 are the best we can muster up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgyUHnFZDq0

Bruce Kline  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 10:12 PM

No William not conflating at all. Speculation? Absolutely. And guess what? Given the time frame we will likely both live to see who is right ... or not. LOL..

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 9:48 PM

Yes, Ada. I do think they'd "do that just for Biden." Just to defeat Trump. Poor old Uncle Joe won the primaries, and spent 90 minutes tonight addressing one policy question after another, something the Orange Blob has never been willing or able to do. As for rudimentary observational skills, I observe that the ballot has Joseph Biden's name under "President of the United States." I believe Doc is conflating observation with speculation.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 8:38 PM

And have you noticed, Bill, how all the radical progressive activists have changed their tones lately. Just take a glance. It's almost as if there was a e-leaflet sent out to all the usual suspects asking everyone to simmer down so the dems can get those swing votes. Do you think they would do that for just Biden?

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 7:55 PM

nope Bill - just talking to my people in DC who have a tendency to know things quicker and more realistically than we do. Just their opinions of course. Just my opinion as well. It is also opinion that the dems felt they could only get swing voters by vying an old crazy white dude against another old crazy white dude. And this is what we're left with. It's truly sad.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 7:53 PM

I agree Ada. Anyone with basic rudimentary observational skills knows (or should know) we are voting - or not - for Kamala Harris. IMO Mr. Biden will likely not complete his term. So I agree with Ben: two years at most.

Ben Venuti  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 6:20 PM

Uncle Joe will "run" the country maybe 2 years max, before bowing out or remaining as a figurehead for the rest of his term. Not saying that's not a better option than Trump...just saying in a country this size, both parties should be able to do better.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 5:39 PM

Well, you should let Joe know that, Ada. Because I'm pretty sure that he is planning, as president, on running things, at least for the next 4 years. I think maybe you're conflating "running the show" with being given a major role in that show.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 5:11 PM

As an independent who sits back and watches and wonders - I concur. All I want is that we don't become a completely fascist or socialist nation. I'm fine with anything in between. And we need to hold our politicians accountable. I think they keep forgetting that they are supposed to be stewards for the American people. The "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" needs to go. B/c we are now determining b/n two sad sacks. And, we aren't actually voting for Biden - we're voting for Kamala - b/c she's going to run that show. Now I just need to determine if she's a back scratcher too.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 5:10 PM

Michael, it's pretty obvious you don't work in any industry supported by the well off.

Michael O'Malley  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 2:54 PM

I'd gladly give up my yacht and some jewels if we can just lose the trickle down bulls**t.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 9:52 AM

Too often we look at the Kennedys as anything more than rich kids who treated power like something their Daddy bought for them with his bootlegging profits.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: October 15th, 2020 9:39 AM

70% of the economy is driven by the well off. Airlines, resorts, restaurants, hotels, yachts, jewelry, real estate, investments, luxury vehicles, RVs, etc. The government always assumes that everyone is better off if the government has more money to help the unfortunate. Tell that to the yacht builder or resort worker who just lost their job. Look at your own workplace, if you don't work for the government, or are paid by the government, and ask yourself if your business would prosper without people who are well off.

Gracie Salter from Casa Grande  

Posted: October 14th, 2020 8:01 PM

Love it! Another great article

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